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Rockland Town Residents: Construction Site Is Ruining Our Water

Lake Lucille

Neighbors in Clarkstown say Lake Lucille is being spoiled by runoff from a nearby construction project. (Credit: CBS)

Elise Finch headshot Elise Finch
Elise Finch is an Emmy Award winning meteorologist who joined the WCBS...
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CLARKSTOWN, N.Y. (CBS) — Residents of a Rockland County town say the water now flowing into a nearby reservoir is a muddy mess, and runoff from a construction project is to blame.

Now, as CBS 2’s Elise Finch reports, Clarkstown homeowners are demanding a swift cleanup.

Normally, the water in Lake Lucille is clear. But ever since it rained heavily, the water has been murky with a reddish tinge.

“It looked like a chocolate river coming down at a rapid rate,” homeowner William Terribile said, “and if you looked carefully, you could see it was all the silt; a red-type silt.”

Terribile followed the trial of discolored sediment to its origin at Sky Ridge – an 18-acre housing development in nearby Ramapo.

“There’s a mountain there that when it got wet, it just slid right down and went right into the streams,” he said.

Clarkstown homeowner Carol Kaney said it got even worse.

“This also continued from here into the reservoir, which is a water source for New York and Jersey,” she said.

Officials from Ramapo and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation investigated, and ordered that work at the new subdivision stop immediately. The DEC also issued notices of violations to Joy Builders, the developer, for inadequate erosion and sediment control measures at the site.

Clarkstown Town Supervisor Alexander Gromack said even though the construction site is in Ramapo, the runoff has clogged and contaminated waterways in Clarkstown.

“We’ve got a tremendous amount of mud and silt in the bed of our streams that will cause future environmental problems and future drainage problems,” Gromack said.

People that spoke to CBS 2 said there is no quick fix. Several waterways may have to be dredged, which could take months, even years, to complete and cost millions of dollars.

Neighbors said the developers should be on the hook for those millions of dollars.

“They should do it and pay for it – the developer – and do it ASAP, you know, because it’s just going to go down stream into the water system,” Clarkstown homeowner Fred Ceresnak said.

Terribile said remediation must start immediately.

Calls to the development company were not returned, but the owner is due in court next week to address summonses related to the runoff.

A compliance meeting is also being scheduled to address cleanup efforts. In the meantime, a stop work order remains in effect at the construction site.